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The First Hurt: Stories Paperback – April 12, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Open City Books; F First Paperback Edition edition (April 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890447412
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890447410
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,264,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a highly promising debut collection of stories, Sherman writes of alienated lower-end white suburbia in a manner that shifts perspectives with an effortlessness that mitigates her characters' sad stuckness. In the opener, "The Reaper," Beth's assignment for a high school psych class—correspond with a soldier stationed abroad—yields not only the expected ("SEND ME A PICTURE OF YOUR NAKED TITS," he writes, claiming to be possessed by the title figure), but an ending reasserts her fantasies of her future with a starkly intimate tenderness. In the tale that follows, an already bad marriage is pushed to the breaking point by having children (twins with birth or genetic defects—it's deliberately left unsaid), by the hot neighbor girl (with intentionally stereotyped hot black boyfriend) and by other facts of life in a nascent exurb; there, everyone's longings feel as shoddily and provisionally housed as the denizens themselves. By the time one reaches the last story, the weirdly anachronistic, cross-cultural sex-with-spinster tale, "Jewish Hair," one has given up any resistance to Sherman's grotesques and settled all the way in to a very uncomfortable place. (May)
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Review

Careful and poignant, and mercifully short on melodrama. -- Kirkus, March 15, 2006

Hilarious and disturbing . . .deals with sexuality on candid terms, depicting the line between what we want and know with precision. -- Time Out Chicago, April 28, 2006

Laser-cut narratives . . . Full of great, quirky lines. -- Time Out New York, May 4, 2006

More About the Author

Rachel Sherman holds an MFA in fiction from Columbia University. Her short stories have appeared in McSweeney's, Fence, Open City, Conjunctions, and n+1, among other publications. Her first book, The First Hurt, was short-listed for the Story Prize and the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and was named one of the 25 Books to Remember in 2006 by the New York Public Library. Her first novel, Living Room, was released in 2009, also to broad critical acclaim. She teaches writing at Rutgers and Columbia Universities, and at the Ditmas Workspace.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Myfanwy Collins on February 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
The women and girls found within the stories of Rachel Sherman's short story collection, The First Hurt are flawed--internally, externally--messed up, marked, imperfect. And that is what makes them so appealing. Within these pages, they show us their dark hearts, their secret bumps, the skin that they pick at. They show us what makes them tick, which is--as the narrator explains in the title story--the first hurt: "My grandmother has only seen me from my neck up. She has never even caught a peek of my terrain of secret skin. On my chest, my back, my arms, I have things growing at the base of me that only I can feel the first hurt of."

And to touch herself in these places, to pick at herself and bring on the hurt is to show herself love. She says: "It's like magic: you touch your skin with the things you were given--hands and oil and pores. All you are doing is wiping yourself with love."

Shame and pain are equal to love--this is terrain I am quite familiar with, as, I would guess, are many of us.

All in all, it's a great collection and I recommend it wholeheartedly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Keller on August 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
First off, I have to admit that I always read the author's biography before I read a book. As much as I recommend this excellent collection of short stories, I hate knowing that Sherman is only two years older than me. She more than satisfactorily represents each of the different narrators, who vary from a young female camp counselor to an unhappily married father of twin infants. Each of the stories is inviting and reassuring in it's own distinctive way. Despite the seemingly differing subject matters, they all offer a unique perspective which leads readers to believe that as strange as things may seem, everything is perfectly normal in their own ways. I don't know of many better compliments that that - the ability to write the ridiculously weird in a completely believable manner.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on May 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
I love short stories, and these are some of the best I've read in a long time. They're sort of like A.M. Homes or Mary Gaitskill's stories: Funny and haunting and good at getting at what it's like when you encounter the threats and promises of the adult world as you grow up.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. Little on February 15, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It seemed to be a series of unfinished stories, with maybe a chapter of each story. I expected it to be more of a coherent novel and I was very much disappointed. I would not recommend this book.
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